Reclaiming Time

Bill Abbate

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Imagine adding more time to your day. More time to do your work and more time to live your life! The benefits of even a small increase in your available time can make life so much better.

You can easily reclaim time each day by using the well-known but often unused or misused art of delegation. Let’s discuss how this art can work to your advantage in every area of life.

“Are we limiting our success by not mastering the art of delegation? …. it’s simply a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.” Oprah Winfrey (1954-present)

What it means to practice the art

Why do so many people struggle with the art of delegating? The definition of delegate is straightforward enough, as shown here from the Oxford Languages dictionary:

delegate (verb) - entrust (a task or responsibility) to another person, typically one who is less senior than oneself.

Simply stated, to delegate is to assign a task to another person or persons, expecting them to complete it to your satisfaction. To forgo delegating means taking on the task yourself or not doing it at all.

Why delegate?

While delegating may sound good, admit it, there are some things you would rather do yourself. Then there is the fact that when something benefits you, like delegating, it can come at a challenge or a cost. Let’s look at some of the benefits and challenges of delegating.

Benefits of delegating include:

  • Accomplishing more in less time
  • Offloading boring or mundane tasks
  • Increasing personal efficiency and effectiveness
  • Freeing up or increasing available time
  • Creating more leisure time
  • Empowering and developing others
  • Enhancing your personal development
  • Increasing your income
  • Gaining time to do other things or pursue other activities
  • Providing others the opportunity to grow
  • Developing greater trust
“Imparting trust, the real meaning of delegation, is a powerful thing.” Scott Berkun (1974-present)

Following are some challenges and costs of delegating:

  • Loss of control
  • They will fail at times
  • It will cost some of your time to coach, mentor, train, and develop others
  • In the end, you remain accountable and responsible for what others do or accomplish
“You can delegate authority, but you cannot delegate responsibility.” Byron Dorgan (1942-present)

Questions to ask

Delegating a task to someone requires deliberate thought to get the best result. A few things to consider when you delegate include:

  • Does the delegated task play to their strengths?
  • Are they dependable, competent, and capable?
  • Will it help them develop and grow as an individual?
  • Do you trust them?
  • Can you allow them to fail?
  • How will delegating the task benefit you (time, money, reduced stress, etc.)?

What to Delegate

Now that you see the benefits and challenges and understand what to consider, do you see the opportunity to delegate more in your work and personal life?

To be clear, we are not talking about passing a few meaningless tasks to another person. Sure, those may help, but the real gain will come from delegating meaningful tasks to enhance your productivity and your life.

Realize there is usually a monetary and/or time cost when you delegate. The person is earning something regardless of the task, so there is a cost whether they succeed or fail. But the great thing is that what you receive can far exceed the cost!

A brief list of commonly delegated tasks in your business includes:

  • Administrative and secretarial work such as sorting through email, handing correspondence, maintaining files, scheduling trips, managing your meeting schedule, etc.
  • Research and report writing
  • Repetitive and routine tasks
  • Anything someone else can do as well or better than you

Some commonly delegated personal tasks can include:

  • · Home upkeep, cleaning, and maintenance
  • · Lawn care and maintenance
  • · Auto maintenance and cleaning
  • · Daycare, nanny, babysitter, and other such services
  • · Financial management and tax planning/filing

What would you add to the above lists?

Become a master delegator!

Effective delegation requires a certain mindset and willingness to take some risks, which anyone can develop over time. The following traits and skills can help you become a master delegator.

1. Let go – A requirement when learning to delegate is to let go. When delegating a task to someone, hand it over completely. It won’t be the end of the world if they make a mistake or fail, will it? Like you, they will grow and become more competent by learning from their mistakes and failures.

“Delegation requires the willingness to pay for short term failures in order to gain long term competency.” Dave Ramsey (1960-present)

Practice it: It can be difficult to let go of things in your work and personal life, but countless people do it every day. There is no reason you cannot as well. Choose one task you can delegate at work and practice letting go. Some work ideas include research, drafting, writing, charting, monitoring, inspecting, scheduling, errands, phone calls, emails, dealing with problems, etc.

2. Help others to grow – Remember, you are providing the person you delegate to an opportunity to learn and grow. As you mature, one of the joys of life is seeing others become more competent because you entrusted them with something important that helped them grow.

Practice it: Who can you help grow by delegating? Name an employee, friend, or family member (especially one of your children), and write down some ideas.

For example, if you have a teen or college student at home, why not take a risk and delegate balancing your checking account to them? They will learn an important skill while saving you time.

3. Be selective – If you enjoy doing something and have the time, why not do it for yourself? If there is something you do not enjoy, why not delegate it? It is important to be deliberate, delegating tasks that free up your time to do more important things. Become creative in your delegating.

Practice it -Delegate a specialized task you do not enjoy. For example, if you are not keen on doing research at work, delegate it to someone who can handle it. At home, find someone to maintain your yard, paint a room or two in your home, take over some of those honey-dos, or virtually anything else.

4. Learn to say no – You cannot say yes to everything, although some people try and live a stressed-out life! If you can’t find it in you to say no, delegate!

Delegation is all about getting more done with less personal effort. If you have no time and no one to delegate to, a polite no is better than added stress.

Practice it: Make a list of people to whom you can delegate. An employee or employees at work? A spouse, child, friend, or neighbor for something personal? Practice saying no when asked to do something you cannot delegate and for which you have no time.

If you can’t say no to your boss, let them know you may need to prioritize and delay something unless they are willing to help or change their mind.

5. Value your time as you value your money, or better yet, value your time as more precious than money!

Don’t be a cheapskate and try to do everything yourself. Your time is precious and if you can spend it earning more, hire someone or a service to do routine tasks at a lower cost.

“I find that many entrepreneurs are trying to do everything when it would be cheaper and more time-efficient to delegate, even if there are monetary costs associated with that.” James Altucher (1968-present)

6. Practice, practice, practice – Find every opportunity to practice delegating something, no matter how small. The more you successfully delegate, the easier it becomes.

“As practice makes perfect, I cannot but make progress; each drawing one makes, each study one paints, is a step forward.” Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)

Remember, delegating at work may be crucial to your career, but it may also be crucial to your personal life. There is no more valuable time than that spent with your loved ones. As you mature, you will value this time more than any other, I assure you!

Final thoughts

Use these few ideas to begin practicing delegating more often. I’m sure you can come up with plenty of other opportunities to delegate if you want. Don’t be shy. Use delegation to your benefit. Use it to improve your quality of life while at the same time helping others in their lives.

A final word to think on from a favorite author:

“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.” John C. Maxwell (1947-present)

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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